Well, this is weird.
The USC Trojans, just like pretty much every other year, entered the 2012 season with expectations of a national title and nothing less. At the beginning of the year, a quick look at schedule revealed a Thanksgiving weekend battle with Notre Dame, which would provide nothing more than a minor obstacle. Right?
No one was expecting the Trojans to lose four games before Turkey Day. No one was expecting Notre Dame to be ranked first and be one win away from an undefeated season and national championship appearance.
No was expecting Matt Barkley to watch the battle from the sidelines. No one was expecting the Irish to be six-point favorites. On the road.
Oh how the tables have most definitely turned.
With freshman Max Wittek set to make his first career start, along with the bowl outlook being so bleak, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Trojans come out flat. Not only are their chances of winning decreasing by the microsecond, but the reward for winning is seemingly nonexistent.
In fact, it seems like this is pretty much the common attitude (via Troy Kinsey of Bay News 9):
But that would be the wrong way to approach this game.
Who will win on Saturday?
The Trojans can play the role of spoiler on Saturday. It's not necessary a familiar role for this school, but it's a fun one to play that can gain national acclaim nonetheless.
A confident, defensively-stout Notre Dame team is going to come into the Coliseum thinking—nay, knowing—a win is expected. No one is going to say it out loud, but the Irish are already being slated into the national championship game.
Lane Kiffin's squad can wreck those plans. They can cause havoc throughout the country and really force people to (even more) hate the BCS.
It wouldn't be anything more than a moral victory, but that's all the Trojans have left at this point. Hey, it's better than losing.